We wanted to share a fascinating column in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times by Gustavo Arellano, managing editor of the OC Weekly and author of “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America,” out in April. He discusses how El Torito filing bankruptcy Chapter 11 signifies the down-fall of Cal-Mex cuisine. You know the stuff, the melted yellow cheese heaped upon refried beans, enchiladas drowning in red sauce, and loads of sour cream. For us foodies, the collapse of Cal-Mex food brings to the table a notion that people are asking for more authentic cuisine. As our knowledge of food increases, consumers are demanding ethnic food that is true to its roots, or a new fusion of cuisines to explore creative thinking and combinations. In Los Angeles, if we want tamales and horchata, it’s easy to go to a local taqueria and find it. Like Arellano, we’re also seeing an increase of cross-ethnic fusions representing the multiculturalism of America, such as Korean tacos, Middle Eastern and Mexican food, etc. The demise of Cal-Mex food illustrates California can as a bell weather for what’s to come in food across the U.S.
Here’s an excerpt from the column. To read the full article, click here.
“The decline of Cal-Mex is sad but it was predestined: Southern Californians have continually embraced, then shed, food trends in favor of new ones. The tamale wagons of the late 1890s and early 20th century gave way to food trucks; the recipe collections of churches and women’s civic groups went from featuring dozens of ways to prepare tamale pie to cribbing from the oeuvre of celebrity chef Rick Bayless. The main remnant of the Southwestern cuisine movement that was the rage during the 1980s are blue tortilla chips and the Southwestern chicken salad.”
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